UNITY — WE AND OUR FATHERS – 18 Apr 1998

Mt 1:1-16; Lk 3:23-38  Genealogy of Yeshua
Ezek 16:3; Dt 26:5  My father was an Aramean (Syrian)

YHVH promised Abraham, our father in the faith, that his children (his descendants) would go down to a land not theirs, and there become slaves.  At Passover we remember that God kept His promise to deliver our fathers, the children of Israel, from Egypt, and to bring us out that we would worship YHVH in the land of promise – the Land of Canaan, now the Land of Israel.  When we read in Genesis and in Deuteronomy where Jacob/Israel described his sons, and Moses described the tribes of the sons of Israel, we notice how different each was while yet of one large and extended family.  They were also joined together by the covenant which God cut with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob, by the redemption from out of Egypt, and by the Law of the covenant which YHVH gave them all together.

All of us have ancestors.  We all have a past – both personal and as a family, a tribe, or as a people.  We see from the Bible that God knows us and He calls us by name.  (Those who are born-again by the Holy Spirit know this experientially.)  Many people today are interested in finding their roots, tracing their family lineages back as far as they can in the hope of gaining a stronger sense of their identity, of who they are.  (The apostle Paul advises us not to waste too much time or effort in this because it is not profitable. Tit 3:9)  It is more relevant to know who are our near and distant relatives in the Spirit – in the faith – than merely of which family in the flesh.  For this reason the New Testament gives only the genealogy of Jesus, showing Him to be the promised Seed of the woman, and of Abraham and David, as well as God’s Son.  After Him, one is either born-again into the redeemed family of God in Christ, or else remains dead in His trespasses and sins as an unsaved son of Adam.

Obviously though, since Messiah there have been many more names up till today with whom we are connected, both naturally and spiritually.  If we look at Jesus’ human ancestors, we finde names that may cause both pride and shame.  There is royalty here, but also names who seem far from honor.  Yet the Holy Spirit has recorded for all to know both the good, the bad, and the ugly, even when showing Jesus was born a Jew, through whom God has brought salvation.  And YHVH, who sees and knows the heart, reminds us that we have no basis for pride of flesh or race, for our ancestors are just like heathen Canaanites and Egyptians.

In the prophet Ezekiel’s day the people complained of suffering and of hardship due to the sins of their fathers.  It is true, according to the Law of God, that those who hated YHVH would bring His displeasure onto the 3rd and 4th generations afterwards. (Ezek 18; Ex 20:5)  So those “children” complained that all of their problems and lack of success were the fault of those who had lived and sinned before them.  Therefore the Lord said to them that He would judge them by their own doings, and they would know that their own sinfulness was the reason for their present distress.

Were not the fathers once the children of their fathers?  Do not the children grow up to become the fathers to future generations?  As a Jewish believer in Jesus as both Messiah and Lord, I cannot divorce myself from either my humanity in Adam; from my Jewish ancestry all the way back to those who killed the Messiah, and back to Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham; or from my spiritual heritage with believers throughout the history of the Church, and back until Abel.  Today, in the spirit of Elijah, God is returning the hearts of the children upon the fathers, and the hearts of the fathers upon the children.

Apart from the sinless Son of God, all of us must confess that we and our fathers have sinned. (Lev 26:39-40; Ps 106:6)  So says the Torah; so prays Daniel and Nehemiah; so teaches the Lord Jesus and His Apostles.  If we presume ourselves as more holy or righteous in our own generation than our fathers and mothers were in theirs, then the Lord says plainly that we are still in our sins and will be more guilty than them. (Mt 23:29-36; Jn 9:40-41)

In spirit and in character, we all have sinful origins – even pagan, those without the true knowledge and worship of the one true living God.  We are neither to justify nor to condemn, but rather to confess our common wickedness together in the sight of God.  In the light of that humbling self-examination and self-judgment, we can pray and intercede to our God who is full or mercies and forgiveness, and we can thank Him for His everlasting lovingkindness (grace).

Brothers and sisters, our history up to this day is full of sins and errors – both of the heart and of discerning God’s will rightly – but God has worked all these things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.  We must forgive those whom we think or believe have sinned to the detriment of those living today, and take heed to our own selves lest, thinking we stand, we fall.  We tend to remember King Solomon with praises, despite what the Spirit of God records regarding his later years.  Let us not condemn a Martin Luther, whom I am certain will be among those written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.  There is no need to justify all the divisions in Christianity in order not to condemn all those found in each camp.  Rather, the call of God to all is to separate from that which is unholy and unclean, and to draw near to Him through the despised Nazarene whom this world dishonors.  To all who heed the call, God promises to be their God and Father, and we shall be His children.  With true unity of the Spirit, the one and only God will dwell in our midst, and manifest His love for us.  To God be the glory, and to the Lamb upon the throne.  Amen.

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